I’ll be up before dawn with some friends in Florida to drink Bucks Fizzby Diane Roberts / May 18, 2018 / Leave a comment
I don’t get out of bed on a Saturday morning for anything less than a diamond tiara. And a first-rate collection of Philip Treacys and Manolo Blahniks. Since the royal wedding is guaranteed to provide the chapeaux and the shoes, I’ll be up before dawn with some friends, all women, all American, to drink Bucks Fizz, eat lemon cake (we couldn’t find any elderflower here in North Florida), and watch Meghan Markle marry HRH Prince Harry of Wales.
We won’t be the only ones. All across the United States, otherwise sane people will rise at an ungodly hour to catch the action of Windsor live. In Manhattan’s Queen Elizabeth Park you can eat bacon butties and catch the action on a big screen at the Brit Block Party; Tina’s Traditional Tea Room in Carmel, Indiana will serve coronation chicken and a cuppa; the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia offers Pimm’s, wedding cake, and a 70-inch TV on which you can get an up-close view of the gravity-defying creation Princess Beatrice will (if the William and Kate wedding was anything to go by) be trying to balance on her head. Or you can stay home and feed on a box of “Harry and Meghan’s Wedding Rings Commemorative Breakfast Cereal,” complete with cartoon illustrations of the happy couple with spoons in their gloved hands, only $56 a box from Etsy.
So why is our democratic republic, a country with no titles of nobility, no monarch, and no mystic ancient rituals (unless you count the Super Bowl, now in its 54th year), going crazy over a ginger haired prince and his actress girlfriend? Americans like to tell ourselves that history is bunk, tradition is so over, and we are all equal. Didn’t we win that war back in the 18th century, the one to rid ourselves of King George? Yet Meghan and Harry grin from the covers of newspapers from Seattle to Key West. CNN has just aired a documentary about the queen, while PBS programmed five nights of pre-knot-tying specials on royal wedding dresses (breathlessly informing us that Queen Victoria started the tradition of wearing white), royal wedding hats, royal wedding music, and royal wedding gossip (will Meghan wear Erdem? Burberry? Will her mother walk her down the aisle?) and all the terrestrial networks promise live play-by-play coverage on the day.
How did we come to this? Is it our binge-watching of The Crown? Do we blame the Disney Princess Industrial Complex? Could it be that, stuck with a rude, crude reality TV star in the White House, we long for a national symbol with the dignity and grace of HM the Q? Perhaps the US-UK relationship is more special than we realise.
“Tina’s Traditional Tea Room in Carmel, Indiana will serve coronation chicken and a cuppa”
Or maybe it’s Meghan Markle herself, giving up the country of her birth for the man she loves, destined to be chased by paparazzi every time she walks down High Street Kensington to buy an organic apple at Whole Foods. She’s the sleekest, most contemporary addition to the Royal Machine since the Buckingham Palace twitter account, this graduate of Northwestern University with a double major in theatre and international studies, this reader of Noam Chomsky, this feminist and critic of Donald Trump, a terrific plot twist in the venerable Windsor soap opera.
She could have gone into politics: when she was eleven, she started a letter-writing campaign to shame the maker of a washing-up liquid into not stereotyping women as people who derive their self-worth from whether their dishes sparkled or not. Best of all, she’s mixed-race or, as she prefers, “biracial,” a talented woman of color marrying into the whitest family on earth. Plus, the wedding couldn’t have come at a better time: the government has treated the Windrush generation so cruelly I wouldn’t be surprised if Theresa May tries to use Meghanophilia to hit the racial reset button.
The truth is, Americans love princes and princesses. We keep trying to manufacture our own with all those sashed and diademed beauty queens representing this state or that agricultural product. But the tiaras, set with mere rhinestones, never look right. In the 1950s and 1960s, we “borrowed” the queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Grace, in the 1980s, it was Princess Diana. We took a big shine to Kate a few years ago, and now we’ll celebrate Meghan, a real American royal, a woke Windsor.
Really, I’m perfectly ironic and satirical about the whole thing. It’s just that I’m fascinated with the way the Firm keeps reinventing itself. I’ve an intellectual interest in unpacking the way old traditions get updated for the digital age. Plus, I really like jewelry. And hats.